When health issues are brought to mind, a wide range of bodily aches and pains may come up in the association, but many medical health concerns are further complicated by issues that extend to the realm of mental health. Sometimes making health concerns more prominent or debilitating and able to lower motivation for seeking treatment, psychological issues connected to medical health worries can significantly detract from the overall quality of life, making potentially already-difficult situations still more challenging for clients. Those who have been diagnosed with HIV are often at a major risk of developing one or several psychological issues, and may even experience these issues before the results of a test are known. By working with qualified mental health professionals to understand and confront these concerns, however, HIV clients can often lead to more fulfilling lives.
One of the most common psychological issues linked to HIV is depression, a mental health concern which affects scores of Americans and people from countries around the world. Generally characterized by intense feelings of sadness or despair, depression can also yield periods of apparent emotional apathy or burnout. In many cases, depression is marked by physical fatigue and a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. People suffering from depression may experience an unwillingness to engage in social functions and may simply wish to stay in bed –though difficulty sleeping is another common symptom. Thoughts and feelings of depression can stem from biological as well as emotional issues; while the stress of an HIV positive diagnosis and the process of coming to terms with a fatal disease may encourage the onset of depression, low energy, loss of appetite, and other physical factors may play a role in fostering depression among those who are unaware of their infection.
Another prominent mental health concern often experienced in tandem with HIV is anxiety. Typically felt during and after receiving an HIV test, anxiety can also become an issue at other points in a person’s life, whether or not they have the virus or know that they’ve contracted a strain. Anxiety is often marked by feelings of extreme worry, racing thoughts, and a sense of inability to act while possibly experiencing physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, sweaty palms, an increased heart rate, and faintness. Anticipating extensive medical treatment or complications, as well as talking to others about HIV, may bring up powerful feelings of anxiety in clients.
Many modern professionals with diverse backgrounds have specific experience in working with HIV positive clients and can help clients reach a greater understanding of the virus as well as methods for living well mentally while confronting an infection. Through addressing mental as well as physical symptoms of HIV, clients can lead more prosperous lives.